Hesperian Health Guides

Understanding sound

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Chapter 5: What can your child hear? > Understanding sound

If parents know about the different types of sounds, it will help them understand how much and what kind of sounds their children can hear.


Some sounds are louder than others. Noises that are closer are louder than the same noises farther away.

A man and his daughter walking outside as 2 motorcycles pass nearby.
A motorcycle is much louder than a person walking. When a motorcycle is close by, it will sound much louder than a motorcycle farther away.
A woman speaks loudly to her child.
loud sound
A woman cups her hand to whisper into the ear of a girl.

Some sounds can be made louder or quieter. For example, you can increase the loudness of a radio or you can make your voice quieter by changing from a shout to a whisper.


Pitch is how high or low the tone of a sound is. Like in music, sounds can go up and down from
high to low pitch.

Higher-pitch sounds
a bird a flute water pouring a baby's cry Higher-pitch sounds have a sharp, thin sound that can feel like it goes right through your ears.
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Lower-pitch sounds
a cow a drum thunder a man's voice Lower-pitch sounds have a full, heavy sound that you can feel in your bones.
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Different speech sounds also have higher or lower pitches. For example, the sounds 'o-o-o' and 'm-m-m' have a low pitch. The sound 'e-e-e' has a medium pitch. The sounds 's-s-s' and 'f-f-f' have a high pitch.